I understand that if you are carrying passengers and getting paid, then you have to have a commercial license.

What about this scenario? I have a PPL (Private Pilot License). My friend owns a company that owns a plane. If I fly him and/or his employees around, and am not being paid for the time and just doing out of the goodness of my heart, is that okay?

  • $\begingroup$ In the scenario you're wondering about, who is paying for the expenses of the flight: you, or your friend (and/or his company)? Also, are you logging the time that you spend flying or not? $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2018 at 22:49
  • $\begingroup$ PPL by Private Pilot License? $\endgroup$
    – Super
    Jul 12, 2018 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ Which country or regulations are you asking about? $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jul 12, 2018 at 23:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "PPL by Private Pilot License? " not sure I understand question. Standard single engine private pilots license in the US is what I would have. $\endgroup$
    – Itza Zkrit
    Jul 13, 2018 at 1:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The FAA has a wide definition of "compensation", even logging hours can be considered compensation. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 13, 2018 at 4:07

3 Answers 3


I'd say you'd be on thin ice with this. The principle is that private pilots cannot be compensated for their flying, with very few exceptions. That doesn't necessarily mean getting paid to fly, it can mean having the expenses of the flight given to you in some way.

Say you take 3 friends on a trip, and your friends pay all the costs. You'd be in violation of FAR 61.113 because you haven't paid your share, in other words you've received compensation. You need to pay 1/4 of the costs of the trip.

In another case you are going on a business trip and decide to fly yourself and your employer pays all the expenses. This is legit because flying is incidental and not the purpose of the trip.

In the case you are stating you have no reason to be flying the airplane other than the flight itself, therefore flying for free means you are receiving compensation and a violation of FAR 61.113.

Note other countries may vary, the UK is extremely similar to the US on this, as are most European countries, I can't speak for anywhere else.


The answer depends on the reason why you are flying your friend and his employees around. You don’t state whether or not your friend employs you in his company, but from the wording of your question I would guess that is not the case.

IF you were employed by your friend, and IF the flight was “only incidental to that business or employment, AND the aircraft does not carry passengers or property for compensation or hire” then you may act as pilot in command AND receive compensation. 61.113(b), (1) & (2) This is the only scenario where a Private Pilot may actually be compensated.

However, if you are flying them around for fun, “out of the goodness of your heart”, then you would fall under 61.113(c) and would need to “not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses.”

Don’t mix the subsections of 61.113 together, they describe distinctly different scenarios. Being the recipient of free flight time is not the same thing as being compensated to fly. Reference subsections (d) and (e).

For example, the Civil Air Patrol has many members with a PPL who join not only out of a sense of Civic duty, but to be able to fly without the costs of renting or owning an airplane. They are not compensated for their volunteer service, but if they are flying a CAP funded mission they receive free flight time.


The privelages of a CPL are it allows you to fly an aircraft CARRYING PASSENGERS OR PROPERTY FOR COMPENSATION OR HIRE under specific circumstances governed under 119.1 of the FARs. The FARs do, however, allow a private pilot to fly for compensation or hire, only if the flight is incidental to the pilot’s employment and it does not carry passengers or property for compensation or hire. See FAR 61.113. The other requirement here is that you the pilot are required to pay no less than a pro rata share of the aircraft’s operating expenses eg fuel, oil, parking fees, etc.

Be careful, as well, to conform with the terms of AC 120-12 when discussing this in order to comply with the FAA’s rules concerning holding out for common carriage, as this can get you into trouble very quick if you don’t

  • $\begingroup$ Everything you've said is 100% correct. I worry that the OP might still find it confusing simply because of the amount of specialized terminology that one needs to use when talking about this particular topic. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Jul 13, 2018 at 2:14
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveV. To amplify the point he made, a pilot with a commercial certificate may be hired to fly the company plane but a private pilot may not. In that case the commercial pilot may receive compensation and the company can pay all of the expenses. If the person works for the company and has a reason to be at the meeting—and not just to fly the people there—then they can fly the company plane and receive their normal compensation for working that day. The company can pick up expenses of the flight. It gets trickier if the pilot flies their own plane but can still be done if you follow the regs. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Nov 6, 2018 at 3:19

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